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TBT – Roberto Carlos & The Goal That Defied Physics

This week’s Throwback Thursday remembers one of the greatest free kicks in history, Roberto Carlos’ wonder strike against the French in 1997.

The scene was France versus Brazil during the Tournoi De France in June of 1997. The match was 0-0 and had reached the 20th minute when Romario was fouled roughly 38 yards from the French goal.

Any other player would have likely played the free-kick short or lobbed the ball into the box in the hope of a connection from a teammate. Not Roberto Carlos.

The Brazilian full-back placed the ball slightly to the right of the pitch centre and, after a long run-up, unleashed a ferocious shot towards goal.

Initially, the shot looked harmless and more likely to land closer to the corner flag than the goal. However, the ball drastically changed direction at the last minute from a technique which became known as the ‘banana’ free-kick, leaving French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez stunned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ECoR__tJNQ

The fact that the ball cleared the defensive wall by a metre and caused a ball-boy standing 10 metres away from the goal to duck his head, shows just how much the ball swerved.

It is widely regarded by critics as the best free-kick of all time and led physicists to perform experiments to find out exactly how Carlos managed it. They concluded that with the right amount of power, spin and distance then the feat could be repeated. If the ball hadn’t been struck from such a distance then gravity would have kicked in and prevented the swerve.

The strike had a lasting effect on football and changed how players approached free-kicks. It helped lead to prolific long-range free-kick takers such as; Pierre Van Hooijdonk, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Juninho, Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Roberto Carlos’ banana free kick will forever live on as one of the  greatest goals in international football history.

Karl Graham, Pundit Arena.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.